The Rules of the Game and Why
First, the US Constitution, its Amendments and US law guarantee and protect the right of all American citizens to vote. Since the Constitution was ratified, 234 years ago, the Congress and the American people have amended its Constitution only 27 times.
The first ten became the Bill of Rights, while others among the remaining seventeen, removed laws aimed at shrinking the American electorate to free, white, males of differently defined, mature years. The following references illustrate the primacy accorded one person, one vote democracy.
Art. I, Section 4 of the Constitution: reserves to the states the right to prescribe “… the times places and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives .., but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing senators.”
XIV – “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges ..of citizens of the U.S..to vote.”
XV – the right of citizens of the US to vote shall not be denied or abridged..by any state on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude..Sec. 2 – The Congress shall have power to enforce this article..”
XIX – The right of citizens of the US to vote shall not be denied or abridged by..any state on account of sex. Sec. 2. Congress shall have power to to enforce this article..”
XXVI – The right of citizens of the US, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged..by any state on account of age.
In a back to the future June 2021 WSJ Op Ed, two lobbyists, Mike Solon and Bill Greene, former Mitch McConnell and John Boehner staffers, reflected antebellum views which the citations above sought to end.
Solon and Greene wrote that “.: the measure (filibuster) protects political nobodies from having to pay attention to politics. If legislation could pass by a simple majority, Americans would have to get involved.”
Senator Hammond (D-SC), 163 years earlier, had explained to his colleagues that the American system was set up to ensure lawmakers even in the minority, could retain control, despite what a majority of Americans wanted.
Team Authoritarian Surges Ahead fueled by Fury
Team Authoritarian is wracking up gains in the Power League. By mid-June 2021 the Team has taken an impressive lead over the Constitution League’s Team Voters. In 18 states, the Authoritarians scored more than 30 laws restricting access to the ballot According to the non-partisan Voting Rights Lab, these laws will affect some 36 million Americans or about 15% of all US voters. In Georgia, another win was recently posted when the legislature passed a measure removing the requirement for all county election boards to be bipartisan. They’re on a roll.
Sports writers and commentators were initially puzzled by the Authoritarians sudden winning streak, given the Team’s somewhat bumpy past record. However, a little research, revealed the obvious. The Team is deeply angry at the owners’ 11/03/20 decision to retire their four year, near idolized 74 year-old coach,known by all as TBG (the big guy). The Pandemic and the holidays had submerged this news, but until Twitter and Facebook dropped him, the coach regularly accused the media of fake news. He wasn’t forced to retire, he ranted, they just wanted me to take some time off “because I haven’t had a vacation in 4 years.”. He says it like it is; we love him, team members said.
Some wealthy admirers of TBG enjoy his over-the-top, sometimes outrageous statements and are frequent members of his foursomes. They also understand the influence he has over millions of Americans, and don’t want to get on his Black List. They’ve helped organize and fund public events where his vitriol generally goes viral on social media They admit, they want to keep stoking the flames through 2022 and 2024.
Lawmakers in these 18 states are supporting the mission by expanding rights on issues they know will please the Authoritarians: guns, abortion, transgender athletes and more. Some of these states have also refused to follow Federal COVID-19 guidelines or to allow state residents to receive additional Federal unemployment benefits. Authoritarians are tough for freedom, one of the Oathkeeper militiamen shouted.
The Authoritarian members of the US Congress are actively engaged in doing their part to limit Voters scoring, by opposing their proposals. First they defeated in the Senate the latter’s attempt to establish a bi-partisan commission to investigate the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Authoritarians deny it was anything serious, just a beer filled exuberance by patriots hyped up after their coach’s rally.
Next down, was a Voters proposal called the For the People Act aimed at improving the equal, unimpeded access by all Americans to the ballot. The Authoritarians characterized the draft bill as a clear Constitutional violation by the Administration, which delegated complete authority over national elections to the states. (Not true. See Art. I, Sec. 4 above).
Team Voters Playing a Longer Game
The Voters have a fragile advantage at the national level where they have a political trifecta; control of the White House and of the Congress, but by tiny to small majorities.. They also recognize their field vulnerability where the Authoritarians control more state governments than they do.
The Voters friendly Speaker of the House acted quickly to replace the earlier unsuccessful proposal for a Bipartisan 1-06 Commission, with a House Select Committee. It will have subpoena powers and will publish its findings. The Authoritarian House minority leader will be consulted on his caucus’s committee members.
In the Executive Branch, the Attorney General announced the Justice Department is suing Georgia because the sweeping new election bill its legislature passed, allegedly restricts voter access by African Americans.
A Georgia Superior Court Judge dismissed 7 of 9 claims brought by Team Authoritarian reps asserting that 147,000 fraudulent votes were cast in Fulton County during the 2020 Election. The judge pointed out that the County carried out three audits of the ballots, including a hand recount. No evidence of widespread fraud was found.
Team Voters may not need a Nuclear Option
Almost eight months after President Biden’s clear 2020 victory he retains strong Voters support. That being said, progressive fans were chafing at the Authoritarians’ apparent, continuing success at tampering with state elections and potentially skewing their outcomes. Some discussion on a potential Nuclear Option began, i.e. a 28th Amendment with enforcement powers. They reasoned it would end forever any domestic/foreign threat to America’s representative democracy.
However, hints are emerging that the Authoritarian momentum may be slowing, tabling a 28th Amendment for now. Senator Romney told CNN the Big Lie (Biden lost the election) reminded him of “…professional wrestling, entertaining, but not real.” Bill Barr, a prominent Authoritarian leader, was recently interviewed by Atlantic journalists. Clearly, recasting his recent past, he referred to the Big Lie, commenting “If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But, my suspicion all along was that there was nothing there; it was all BS,”
And finally, at his first public rally since 1/06, (Ohio) the Big Guy got cheers when he railed about the stolen election, but a large number of the former faithful, left before the event ended.
Tom Timberman is an Army vet, lawyer, former senior Foreign Service officer, adjunct professor at GWU, and economic development team leader or foreign government advisor in war zones. He is the author of 4 books, lectures locally and at US and European universities. He and his wife are 24 year residents of Kent County.